Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Did you know these so called 'volunteers' don't even get paid?

For some, the above Homer Simpson quote sums up the volunteer experience. But not for me. At the risk of becoming incredibly wanky over the next few paragraphs, I am going to tell you what I have done so far this week and why it has been brilliant.

A blow by blow account of what I've been doing - shifting bags, barbequeing, helping people find things and most of all 'etcetera' - would be shitbollock boring. So instead I will tell you about the good bits.

For a start I have met and talked to at least a hundred new people. And it's only Tuesday. Having a badge that says 'Sup?' seems to be a great way of breaking the ice, I advise you all to get one. But along with the scores of amiable acquaintances who will now accost me in Medicine, Stumble and the Union with the word 'Sup?', I have also met a number of people with whom the rapport goes deeper, and who I am sure will become firm and perhaps life long friends.

I'm only half way through the week, but already I feel more at home at Holloway than I ever have before. I've started keeping a secret bag of clothes and toiletries on campus so I hardly even have to leave. No I'm not telling you where it is, but suffice to say I once actually won at hide and seek while I was hiding. Yes, they had to give up. I hid that well.

I am thinking of setting up a tent in the quad to save on rent. Perhaps I could become a quasi-gypsy, setting up my tent all around Egham and, when I finnally got evicted after thirty days, moving my stuff just down the road.

I was never a fresher myself - well, not properly. During my first year I still lived at the flat. Plus, I was 20, with a kid, so the "wow, we are finally free!" vibe of my first year was kind of lost on me. And perhaps it says something that, even though this year I could have celebrated my new found independence with a fresher's week full of hedonism and frivolity, I have actively sought out responsibility like some kind of fucking masochist. Last night I was at Medicine, half way through getting pissed, when I heard there was a bit of a ruckus at the union. There was no expectation or obligation for me to go and help - I'd clocked off at six after a nine hour day - but I wanted to be there, I wanted to help, and even when I found the situation to be under control, I stayed and helped out anyway. I stayed for over an hour, and by the time I returned my pitcher had gone missing. But even this, and the fact I couldn't actually get into the Union, did not dampen my spirits (well, they did, but only for ten minutes or so).

All this is beginning to sound suspiciously like bragging. And I suppose it is, a bit. But I prefer to think of it as advertising. Helping people out this week has actually gotten me high. This high in't quite up there with the first time you drop a pill, but I'd sure as hell no trade it for ten grams of coke. Or, if I did, I'd sell those ten grams and give the money to charity. Fuck yeah!

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